COLUMBIA, Mo., Feb. 23 (UPI) -- The majority of injuries to U.S. children younger than age 15 are not the result of physical abuse but unintentional injuries, researchers said.
Researchers at the University of Missouri and colleagues at Washington University found young children with multiple injury-related emergency room visits are more likely than children with only one visit to have been reported to Child Protective Services.
"Not all children with multiple injury-related hospital emergency room visits are victims of physical child abuse; physicians should consider the possibility of inadequate supervision as a cause of multiple injuries in young children," Patricia Schnitzer said in a statement.
"When treating young children who have had medical treatment for multiple injuries, physicians should seek information about previous injury-related emergency room visits, and ask parents about supervision techniques, their child's injuries and home environment. This information can help identify risk factors for injuries, and determine if interventions are needed."
The researchers identified 50,000 Missouri children up to age 4 with at least one injury-related emergency room visit in 2000. They found children with two or more injury-related emergency room visits in one year are more likely to be reported for child maltreatment compared to children with one injury-related visit.
The study, published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, found the risk of having a Child Protective Services report increased from two-fold for children with two emergency department visits to five-fold for children with four or more visits.